cryptos at the center of European high tech debates

This Tuesday, the Lisbon Web Summit will open, bringing together more than 1,000 speakers to discuss the future of the ecosystem.

The Web Summit, a high-level European technology event, will begin on Tuesday evening in the Portuguese capital with, in particular, the program’s core questions about the future of cryptocurrencies. According to its founder Paddy Cosgrave, the event will be a sell-out with around 70,000 visitors expected over the four days of the show, which thus returns to its 2019 format, ahead of the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the program: startups, investors, business leaders and leading personalities. In total, more than 1000 speakers including American intellectual Noam Chomsky or Ukrainian heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk.

But the chosen places are reserved for specialists in cryptocurrencies and blockchains, a technology that claims to be able to revolutionize the use of the Internet and even the global economy. Many companies specializing in this universe will be present, from start-ups to multi-billion dollar unicorns such as the Yuga Labs studio or the OpenSea platform.

Changpeng Zao, incumbent

Also headlining the show is Chinese-Canadian Changpeng Zhao (or CZ), the wealthy boss of leading crypto-asset exchange Binance. Everyone will try to convince that the potential of cryptocurrencies remains intact as the sector goes through countless crises, is accused of fueling financial bubbles, facilitating tax evasion and even being a big fraud.

Asked by AFP, Paddy Cosgrave agreed that “a lot of questions remain unanswered” about crypto, which he largely defines as a matter of some kind of illusion.

“We’ve done our best to convince key figures in the ecosystem to come and some of them will be pushed a little bit on the stage. We’ll see what happens,” he added.

Crypto haters like actor Ben McKenzie (known for the TV series Gotham and Newport Beach) were also invited.

Alarm trigger

CZ’s comments will be particularly scrutinized, as a world leader in crypto, but also because his company Binance has been repeatedly accused of wanting to avoid regulations, which it opposes.

She is also one of the investors who lined up for billionaire billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, with a $500 million investment. Finally, it revealed in early October that it had been the victim of a major hack, estimating the extent of the theft at around $100 million.

Accumulating controversies and the steady decline in the valuation of crypto assets – driven like the rest of technology by the worsening macroeconomic context – are now pushing the crypto sector to try to mobilize public interest again.

But it is not the role of the Web Summit to seek to stimulate investment in this area, said Paddy Cosgrave. Traditional tech figures Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta will also be present to present their latest developments in health, artificial intelligence or virtual worlds.

Following whistleblower Frances Haugen, who came in 2021 to accuse Facebook of prioritizing its growth over fighting online hate, the show will this year give a platform to Irish lobbyist Mark MacGann, who revealed to the public Uber’s aggressive strategy to impose itself in the war against taxis.

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